Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Former Editor Speaks Out

Li Datong felt he had to speak out about abolishing term limits
The other day I blogged about the Chinese Communist Party proposing to abolish the two-term limit for presidents and vice presidents, effectively meaning President Xi Jinping's term in office could be for as long as he lives.

Many people took to social media to voice their opinion -- posting the picture of Disney's Winnie the Pooh hugging a massive pot of honey with the tagline, "Find the thing you love and stick with it" along with other subtle hints of disapproval.

This image of Winnie the Pooh referring to Xi was censored
However those images were quickly censored, along with a Durex condom tagline, "Two rounds just aren't enough" (干两次,是不够的 gàn liǎng cì, shì bùgòu de).

But one person was willing to stick his neck out. Li Datong (李大同), the former managing editor of Freezing Point, a respected magazine that was part of China Youth Daily newspaper, wrote an open letter voicing his concerns.

A translation of it can be found at China Media Project.

In it he said scrapping the term limits was one of Deng Xiaoping's greatest legacies, following the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution.

"China can only move forward on this foundation, and there is emphatically no reason to move in the reverse direction. Removing term limits on national leaders will subject us to the ridicule of the civilized nations of the world," writes Li.

"It means moving backward into history, and planting the seed once again of chaos in China, causing untold damage."

Xi seems intent on amassing as much power as possible
He implores delegates of the National People's Congress to exercise their right to vote and go against the Party's decision to amend Article 14 of the constitution to abolish term limits for the president.

After he published the letter, there were efforts made to censor it too, but people took screenshots of it and posted it upside down.

In an interview with the BBC, Li said he was too old to be worried about the authorities.

"As a Chinese citizen, I have to fulfil my responsibility and tell the delegates my opinion. I don't care what these delegates will do. It's not like the whole country agrees with the amendment, but everyone has been silenced," he said.

"I couldn't bear it anymore. I was discussing with my friends and we were enraged. We have to voice our opposition.

"In theory, NPC delegates from Beijing have to represent the several million voters in the capital. I am a voter and I write a letter to the delegates representing me. I express my opinion on the amendments. It's very safe legally.

"Even if the amendment is passed, it doesn't matter. History is often like this -- we make two steps forward and one step back. But this is against the tide of civilization and won't stand the test of time. It will be considered a farce in Chinese history in the future."

It was brave of Li to speak out -- he felt he had no choice but to voice his opinion on something he felt so strongly to be wrong. Will we hear from him again? Or will he be effectively silenced from now on?

We shall see next week what happens, but it is expected the amendment will pass with a clear majority. Who dares to go against Xi's wishes?


  1. There are many courageous people in China. I just wish they would garner respect and be able to positively influence matters rather than, as often seems the case these days, get punished for saying and/or writing what they believe.

    1. How can you garner respect when you're going against the tide? But many ordinary people are not happy with this recent announcement. Apparently there was a spike in searches online for "immigration"... we're going to see a lot of capital flight this year as well as property prices outside of China rise higher...